Handmade empanadas make fantastic comfort food. Their crispy and flaky exterior and steamy meaty interior checks a lot of boxes on the comfort food list.
There are many types of empanadas being made throughout South America and Spain, but the ones we’re making today are our own version, which are really just a combination of the best bits from all of the empanadas we’ve had.
These empanadas can be made with whatever ingredients you have readily available in your kitchen (use ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork), which makes them very versatile and easy to make.
You’ve likely had a few different types of empanadas. The traditional variety made in Argentina are baked, unlike the ones in Colombia, which are fried.
The two also use a different type of dough – one a flour pastry and one a corn pastry. Ingredients vary as well. In some parts of Spain, it’s not uncommon to find seafood like mussels baked into their pie-like empanadas.
In Argentina, you’ll find hard boiled egg slices in the empanadas. They are called Empanadas mendocinas. We really enjoy this version, so the recipe found here includes the egg and olive that you’d typically find in an Argentinean empanada.
Why are empanadas so well loved around the world?
You can find empanadas in some variation in just about every cuisine in the world, even if they aren’t called by that name. It’s not really surprising as they are so easy to eat. They’re essentially a hand pie, which you can grab and eat on the run. They’re also just so darn tasty!
For me, comfort food has to be something you crave, that is simple, and incredibly satisfying. Empanadas are all of those things. They are hearty and filling too. So why not try your hand at making your own at home. They really aren’t that hard to make.
What Is In An Empanada?
Your empanadas can be filled with meat or just veggies. Here are the typical ingredients that are stuffed into an empanada:
- Ground beef, chicken or pork
- Spices: cumin, chili powder, and paprika
- Root vegetables – pumpkin, butternut squash, or turnips
- Boiled eggs
You can choose which of these ingredients you want to put into yours, or just stick with the typical recipe, which you’ll find below.
It’s your choice whether you make the dough yourself or buy it pre-made.
You can find pre-made dough in just about any major grocery (often found in the frozen aisle with the pie dough). A Latin or South American grocery will definitely have them.
If you can’t find it already cut into circles, you can always just buy pre-made savory pie dough and cut the circles yourself. You can cut large or small circles, depending on what size you want your empanadas to be.
It’s also super easy to make, so don’t shy away from making it yourself. All it takes is:
- Butter (or lard)
You’re probably thinking there’s no way these can be easy to make, but have faith. Don’t worry if you aren’t a pro at making cute little parcels out of the dough. They don’t have to be pretty. They just have to taste good! In fact, you don’t have to make your empanadas in any pre-defined shape. As long as the dough holds in the ingredients, that’s all that matters.
If you want to make it really easy, buy one of these empanada presses that do all the work for you. All you have to do is fill them with ingredients and press them together.
How to Make Beef Empanadas
Step One: Make the Dough
If you’re using store bought dough, there’s nothing to do but set it out. If you’re making the dough, just combine the ingredients, mix it into a dough ball, roll it out, and cut out round shapes. Very simple.
Step Two: Make the Filling
For the filling in this recipe, I brown the ground beef, onion, and potato cubes together in one pan. Add the spices and green onion and you’re DONE!
Then slice up the hard boiled egg. You’ll add one piece of egg to the center of each empanada.
Step Three: Stuffing the dough
Next, just scoop some filling into the dough, fold the dough over, and crimp the edges together. You might need to put a bit of water along the inside seam to hold it.
Step Four: Fry or Bake the Empanadas
The only thing left to do is bake or fry the empanadas. Baking them is definitely easier, cleaner, healthier, and less fuss. But fried empanadas are oh-so-tasty. It’s up to you. I’ve made them both ways.
If you choose frying, you’ll need a large enough vat of vegetable oil or lard to submerge the empanadas. If you choose bake, put them in the oven at 350 ° F for about 10-12 minutes, until they are browned on the top.
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Easy Beef Empanadas
- 1 large baking potato cut into small cubes
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 green onions chopped
- 3 large eggs hardboiled
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter (can substitute lard or vegetable shortening)
- 1 yolk egg
- 3/4 cup milk
For the Dough
- Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Cut in the butter until the flour mixture resembles small pebbles. Add the egg and milk. Stir to combine.
- Using your hands, knead the dough together until dough is smooth.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut the dough into 4 inch rounds.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
- Cut the potato into small cubes and add them to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and ground beef to the skillet. Cook until the ground beef is browned and crumbled.
- Add the paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt, and chopped green onion to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Add a spoonful of the mixture to the dough rounds. Add a slice of egg. Fold the dough in half over the filling. Wet your finger with water and run it along one seam of the dough. Crimp together along the seam.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned on top.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.